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Pastoral Visits to Member Churches a Major Highlight of LWF President Krause’s Tenure

Outgoing LWF President Reflects, Looks Ahead

WINNIPEG, Canada, 30 July 2003 - In the final press conference of his six-year term as president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Bishop emeritus Dr Christian Krause reflected on the highlights of his years in office.

Half-way through the last full day of the Tenth Assembly of the Federation of churches he has led since the 1997 Ninth Assembly in Hong Kong, China, Krause met for one final time with an international group of media representatives. In a reflective mood, the former bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick, Germany, listed what for him had been the most significant events. First and foremost had been his pastoral visits to the LWF member churches worldwide, in particular to the churches of Eastern Europe and Russia, which were in the early stages of transition from communist rule and moving back into the fellowship of the global communion. Krause recalled that he was privileged to reintroduce Reformation Day as a national holiday in Slovenia.

Perhaps the most visible achievement during Krause’s tenure was the October 1999 signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification – a major theological achievement ending 500 years of Roman Catholic and Lutheran division. But Krause was quick to point out that for him the essential meaning of the Joint Declaration has been not theological but "atmospheric." It has changed "the atmosphere in Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches around the world."

Indeed, said Krause, the Joint Declaration is important even in families in countries that are evenly divided between Lutheran and Roman Catholic, such as Germany. He mentioned his own family, in which his daughter married a Roman Catholic man who expressed some concern about his affiliation. Krause assured his future son-in-law that "we are one family." Because of the Joint Declaration, he said, "The ice has melted."

He cautioned however that the achievement of the Joint Declaration and other ecumenical issues, such as Eucharistic hospitality, have different dynamics in other parts of the world. In the southern hemisphere there are other priorities, other influences. He gave as an example the growing charismatic movements that cross denominational lines.

"Our respective traditions should enrich, not divide us." He said that the LWF provides a network of global solidarity that one can "feel" which helps to assure that there is a global consciousness for those who suffer.

As for the future of the LWF, Krause expressed the wish that the LWF not evolve into a "money distribution center" but focus on prayer and communication. He hopes that the LWF will transcend borders and embrace the different "models" of Lutheranism that are growing around the world. He expressed forcefully the hope that LWF will address the issue of global poverty in concrete ways. It is "a time bomb for our children." Krause also encouraged increased inter-religious dialogue among the Abrahamic faiths within the existing structures of the World Council of Churches. He commented on the peculiarly American phenomenon, namely, the rapid proliferation of non-denominational Christian "mega-churches" and cautioned Lutherans not to leave the "vacuum" in the churches of Eastern Europe to these groups to fill.

Krause concluded with words of thanks to the press for treating him with fairness and for providing him with a forum to highlight his pastoral visits around the globe and therefore uplift the LWF as a global communion.

The Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place 21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth Assembly including 380 delegates from the 133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years. Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets annually, and by its Executive Committee.

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